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WHO: Alijah and Jordan
WHAT: Horse ride to a private picnic for two & confessions
WHERE: A private cove a little ways away from the main area
WHEN: A few days ago
WHY: Because romance lives on forever
PROMPT: 019 - Horses

It had been a smooth day so far, the breeze light and the sun gentle. There were hardly any clouds as far as he could see, and the ocean was calm. One couldn't ask for a better afternoon.

Alijah doubted himself for a moment, but buried the feelings and remembered the pains he'd taken to prepare for today, knowing it was too late to back down. He hoped desperately that Jordan was home and in a good mood, aware that those two things would make or break everything.

He stood tall outside Jordan's bungalow, stamping his hooves nervously as he drew close, realizing only then that he hadn't prepared a way to get her attention to begin with.

His large frame sank into the earth with every step, the form of the dappled stallion heavy in the heat of the sun... even as cool as it was. He exhaled sharply, brief irritation in his temporary voice.

Decidedly unwilling to change his form, Alijah put his front hooves up on the porch and leaned down to bump his forehead against the door. Hopefully that would work.

Jordan was busy in her kitchen, just putting away a tray of brownies. She was a little stressed, busy worrying over Micah being away, and a little tired after a sleepless night with Joaquin. She'd forgotten how much work babies were and was more than a little glad her own son had grown so fast. All in all though, it had been a good day thus far.

She washed her hands and took her hair down from its' clip. Her denim shorts had a smudge of brownie mix on them and the halter top was dusty from powdered sugar. Oh well. They'd wash.

Her bungalow was silent, which was unusual. She loved to listen to music while she baked. So the faint sound of hooves and a bump at the door caught her attention. Curious, she went to open it and blinked, face to face with the gorgeous stallion.

Alijah would've smiled if he could've. Jordan looked stunning, her hair pulled back and her eyes wide. She smelled like she'd been baking all day, which was probably mostly true.

He lowered his head down below hers, snorting softly as his mane fell down, tickling his neck. He waited to see what she would do, hoping she would figure him out.

Reaching out, she stroked his ears gently. "Well, I know for a fact nobody here has a horse. You know, Alijah, if you wanted me to ride you - you just had to ask..."

Jordan bit her lip to keep from laughing loudly.

Alijah made an odd sound, amused by her comment and wildly embarrassed. He turned his side to her, making quite the effort to lower himself down, sitting uncomfortably in the sand. He looked up at her, turning his ears to listen to anything she might say.

"Alright, alright, I get the hint," she smiled and climbed onto his back. It wasn't the first time she'd ridden, but the first time she'd gone bareback. "You're going to smell like brownies and girl now. God, I wish I could do this..." The last part was said rather absently as she leaned forward and wrapped her arms around his neck.

He was definitely the most powerful thing she'd had between her legs.

Alijah felt his body warm when Jordan climbed onto his back, the sensation strange and yet very welcome. He stood, taking care to be smooth about it. He didn't want to cause her harm, and if he could've come up with a saddle of some sort, he would've done it for her.

He turned in place, his tail aimlessly swishing against his hind legs, the eagerness apparent in him despite the ability to communicate verbally.

As calmly as he could manage, Alijah started an easy trot off toward the beach, and the destination he had in mind.

Jordan held on as tightly as she dared, flexing more with her thighs and legs as she'd been taught than with her arms. Instead she just relaxed and snuggled. She'd missed him. It was an odd sensation.

Alijah couldn't explain or fully understand it, but the feel of her arms around him created an illusion of belonging to someone, of being intoxicated by her, the warmth of her body and the gentle touch of her fingers against his skin.

It was all he could do to maintain his focus, his hooves crashing down into the shallow waves, his muscles all moving together to take them far from the bungalows... and from anyone else that could disturb their time together.

After what felt like all day, Alijah slowed down, bringing his pace to a casual walk as he closed the distance between them and the hidden place he'd set up just for her.

She'd been enjoying the sun on her skin, her hair bouncing against her bare shoulders. In fact, the ride was so relaxing that she'd stopped paying attention to their surroundings altogether. It startled her, how much she trusted him. Inhaling, Jordan looked around. He smelled like horse. But somehow, still like himself.

And no, she wasn't going to tell him that it'd turned her on just a little.

Alijah brought her around a small group of trees and into what seemed to be a natural cove, the vegetation pulling in around them, enclosing them as he took them further into it. It'd been a pleasant discovery, and he'd visited it a few times on his own before settling on bringing her here.

As they drew in further, Alijah stopped beside a soft blue sheet laid out on the ground, the middle weighted down by several tupperware containers and dishes he'd prepared. He lowered his body down again for her, trying not to kick up any sand.

Jordan spotted the tupperware first, hoping to God that he didn't cook it himself. She grinned then, knowing she'd choke it down even if he had. The spot itself was gorgeous and taking in the full sight, she inhaled sharply. "Oh, Alijah..."

Sliding down carefully, she kept in as much contact with him as she could. "It's so beautiful here."

Alijah turned his head, nosing her nearest hand with half-closed eyes. It was his silent thanks for coming along, for bearing with him.

He let his eyes slide closed, focusing on returning to his normal form. He knew it had been a while, and that it would be difficult, but it wasn't really any concern. The effort was obvious as he changed, his body shrinking as he strained.

It took everything he had to complete the transformation, but when he'd finally finished, he stood to look Jordan in the eye. "It's even more beautiful now that you're here," he said quietly, swallowing against the exhaustion he tried not to show.

Patience would heal the ache in his muscles, bringing him back to full strength in a matter of minutes. He only had to wait it out.

She smiled brightly at that, looping an arm around his waist. It was mostly to keep the physical contact and just a little because she was concerned about the effort it'd cost him.

Jordan had watched the transformation carefully, logging it and categorizing it in her mind. Later, when she wasn't so distracted, she would dissect it and use it to teach herself. Somewhere in the back of her head, she knew she'd ask Alijah to supervise, make sure she didn't turn into a half goat half chicken...thing.

Feeling re-energized, she hugged him briefly. "I think this is the sweetest thing anyone's ever done for me."

Alijah brought his arm up around Jordan, smiling as she spoke. Hearing her voice was soothing; it helped him feel better about what he'd done.

"I have lunch for us," he said, gesturing to the containers on the ground. "I didn't really cook a whole lot of it, so it should be fairly edible." He laughed silently, his shoulders shaking slightly.

She tried her best not to look relieved at that. "Who helped you?"

Jordan looked curiously at the containers, not quite willing to separate herself from him. But she didn't want to be too clingy so she pulled away to kneel in front of the tupperware to investigate.

Alijah tilted his head a bit, wondering at her question.

Inside the containers were simple things he'd tried very hard to either improvise on, and had ended up with a rather odd assortment. There were egg salad sandwiches, which he'd made - very proudly - on his own. He'd even taste tested them, and they seemed fine... maybe slightly bland, but definitely edible. The largest container held a fruit salad, the bits cut up awkwardly and obviously by someone uncomfortable with the kitchen. Off to the side sat a pitcher of sweetened iced tea, safe on a rock beside the sheet, kept closed with a secured lid. He'd brewed it the previous evening in anticipation of the lunch, wanting to be as prepared as possible.

"Nobody helped me 'cept for telling me where the grocery was," he explained, taking a seat next to Jordan as she inspected what he'd brought.

"Awww, baby," she crooned and grinned. "You cooked? For me?" Jordan opened the container with the fruit salad and plucked out a piece of strawberry. She worked on it absently, doing what could be considered obscene things to the poor - or lucky, depending on how you looked at it - piece of fruit, and sniffed at the egg salad sandwiches. "Oh! My favorite!"

Alijah watched Jordan eat the strawberry, unable to take his eyes off of her. He wasn't sure what it was about it, but it was very... sensual. He broke his gaze when she opened up the sandwiches, smiling when she announced her pleasure.

"Good. It's one of the few things I can make without total disaster." He shifted and reached for the container furthest from them. "I can make toast on a good day, oatmeal if I'm feeling lucky, egg salad because it's one of my comfort foods... and these," he said, popping the container open with his nails. "My mother's own recipe for chocolate rugala." There were small dough-made pastries inside, the chocolate seeping out at the seams where he'd tried to close them as neatly as possible. They weren't professional by any standards, but hopefully something that met her approval.

"Ooooh, chocolate," she grinned and pulled out a pastry. It combined incredibly well with the strawberry. "Oh, Alijah. They're delicious."

Jordan settled on the blanket, her leg keeping in contact with his body while she worked on her lunch. "You have no idea how nice it is to eat something I didn't make... I love to cook but... Thank you."

Alijah nodded and glanced at her leg, making a note of it while reaching for the iced tea. "I wanted to do something special for you," he said, pouring her a glass. He set it down and poured another for himself, his eyes blinking up to watch Jordan. She seemed to be enjoying herself, which made him feel at ease.

"I hope I didn't cook the eggs too long or anything." He set her glass down between them and pulled the tupperware closer, reaching for one half of a sandwich.

"Everything is perfect," she nodded. Okay, so maybe the sandwiches were a little bland but it didn't matter because he made them and she lo- Jordan coughed a little, eyes going wide. Taking a big gulp of her tea, she cleared her throat and chuckled. "Heh, went down the wrong tube."

Alijah's smile faded when Jordan coughed, hoping she was alright. He panicked, thinking maybe there was a piece of eggshell in the sandwich. He'd been so careful!

Her explanation calmed his nerves a little, although he was still suspicious.

"You don't have to pretend to like it, you know," he teased, taking a bite of what he held in his hand, chewing it while watching her.

Jordan made a face and ate more fruit. "I'm not pretending. I don't lie. If it was horrible, I'd say so." With that, she took a defiant bite of her sandwich, licking her fingers clean afterwards. She smiled and leaned over to kiss his cheek. It was a quick peck, shy.

"Thank you. I mean it. It's perfect."

Alijah shifted, feeling a little better now that he'd had a moment to relax. His muscles had finally soothed themselves, the pain melting away into nothing.

The kiss sent a shiver down into his stomach, his reaction right on his face. He smiled and picked out a grape, one of the only non-mangled fruits in the bowl. He ate it, almost immediately taking another bite of his sandwich. He hadn't realized it at first, but he was starving.

"Perfect is a stretch, but I'll take your word for it."

He acted a little on instinct and scooted toward her, closing the distance between them without really thinking about it.

Jordan rolled her eyes a little, getting a handful of fruit. "Good." She ate a couple grapes and held one out in front of Alijah's lips while she chewed. It took her a second to realize what she was doing but instead of backing down, she watched curiously to see what he would do.

"You should see how badly Micah's botched some things. Kid can burn water..."

Alijah watched Jordan with the grapes, pleased that she was enjoying herself. Something was off for a moment, and he blinked as she held a grape out in front of him, her eyes on him as though waiting.

He blinked a few times and swallowed. She wanted him to take it...?

He set his sandwich down and then scolded himself mentally. This wasn't supposed to be a big deal. He was supposed to just take it, not think about it. Now he looked like he was thinking about it, putting too much thought into what should've been a pretty easy interaction.

Easy. Huh.

He took a deep breath and leaned forward, watching her closely for any sign of disapproval.

Alijah took the grape gently with his teeth, unable to help it when his lips touched her fingers. His heart pounded loudly in his ears when he finally pulled back, so shocked at himself that he hadn't remembered to start chewing it.

Jordan watched him blink and stare, struggling to keep her breathing steady. She felt like an idiot holding the stupid grape out like that. Stupid, stupid, stupid. And then he leaned forward and she stopped breathing completely.

Whoever the hell said food was like having sex was a God damn genius. She had a silly mental image of him laying with his head in her lap while she fed him grapes. Jordan blushed at that, swallowing hard.

Think unsexy thoughts. Think unsexy thoughts.

However, the fact still remained that she smelled like chocolate and horse and him - she still tingled from where her thighs had rubbed against him. And she had never wanted to kiss anyone as badly as she'd been wanting to kiss him since he handed her that damn glass of apple cider.

Think unsexy thoughts...Man, she was so fucked.

"I...I have to tell you something," she cleared her throat. "I've never felt as safe as I do when I'm around you with anyone else. I'm not sure why, but I do."

There. That was an unsexy thought. Except he was all strong and man and could protect her. At least she thought he could. It was all so primal and instinctive. The blush rose again. Fuck.

Alijah managed to chew the grape with a lot of effort, his body tingling all over in response to the moment he was pretty sure they'd just shared. He heard her voice and focused on it, swallowing the small bit of food before daring to respond to her.

At first he wasn't sure he should speak, because he wasn't sure what to say that would sound right. He felt his heartbeat in his throat, the anxious feelings building up in his chest as though he might explode.

The things he'd said earlier, thought about over and over again; they became clear. Maybe this was where he needed to be.

Maybe Jordan was where he needed to be.

He came up beside her and reached for her cheek, the redness there mirrored on his own face, he knew. He felt like a child, discovering something exciting and frightening all at once. He touched her softly, his fingers trailing down and over her chin.

This was there own small world, and Alijah knew they both belonged in it.

"I want to be here to protect you," he whispered to her.

Jordan sucked her lower lip into her mouth and stared at him for just a moment before her eyes slid shut and she leaned into his touch. She could feel her heart pounding in her veins, listened to it rush in her ears.

Her inner teenaged girl waited with bated breath. She felt like that. Young and virginal. Like she'd never been kissed and certainly never touched in any way that would cause her to give birth nine months later.

"I...I'm glad," she finally said quietly.

Alijah watched her, his eyes dark as he felt her breath on his face. He dropped his hand down slightly, his thumb on the very end of her chin as his fingertips touched her throat.

He held his breath, his eyes sliding closed before he moved in. He licked his lips just before abandoning his nature to be cautious, hesitant, all of what would normally hold him back thrown aside without remorse.

Amongst the quiet of the secluded cove, Alijah kissed Jordan, his free hand rising to brush back her hair. He was gentle, tilting his head slightly to accommodate her, inhaling her scent without thinking about it.

There could never be another moment like this, not for the rest of his existence.

Alijah's lips were softer than she had imagined. Not that she'd imagined them...much... Her heart leapt up into her throat and she felt a little dizzy. Making a 'mrrrrrr' noise in the back of her throat, Jordan reached out to hold onto his shirt. The sound died into a happy sigh. So this is what cloud nine felt like.

The hair on the back of her neck tingled and she smiled. As far as she was concerned they were the only two people on the planet. She felt both lost and found at the same time and her head swam with it. Now lunch was perfect.

Time seemed to slip away without notice. Alijah couldn't focus, or stop to think... he just did what instinct told him to do, his feelings of worry and self-dislike fading the longer he sat here with Jordan. His hands were eager yet almost afraid to touch, moving over the soft curve of her neck and the gentle angle of her jaw.

He exhaled through his nose, breaking the kiss briefly to shudder, looking at her through half-lidded eyes. She was so beautiful, and made him challenge himself. He brought their mouths together again to show her he meant all he could put into it, a soft sound rising in the back of his throat.

Time slowed for Jordan too, as well as all thoughts of 'oh my God oh my God' coupled with every other thing she'd been worrying about. She relaxed noticeably into his hands, scooting closer until she was practically in his lap. One hand wandered of it's own accord, grasping gently at his hair. It was soft and full, the curly strands wrapping around her fingertips.

Breathing a little hard, she tingled. Jordan could practically feel everything he was pouring into it and did her best to show him how special this moment was to her.

Alijah broke the kiss slowly, pausing only to instead run his lips downward, pressing them to her chin and then further up her jawline, his focus all on how smooth she felt. The fingers in his hair sent a shock down his spine, his scalp tingling under her hand as she held onto him. He returned to her once more, her lips seemingly waiting for his, this new kiss urgent when they met.

He pulled her close, his arms around her smaller frame.

Jordan shifted and crawled onto his lap, practically desperate for his touch. She wanted to be as close to him as she could get. Her hand slid up his chest and onto his shoulder, the other still playing with his hair. She tingled where he'd kissed her jawline, where his hands were.

Alijah could hardly breathe, focus... he wasn't able to think clearly. All that matter was Jordan, her warmth, her touches. Everything flew by that didn't matter; time, the gentle breeze, the discomfort of a rock under his left leg. None of it could pull him away from Jordan, and the embrace they were sharing. He kissed her like he meant every moment of it. He kissed her as though he'd never wanted anything so badly, never known how to want this bad. It hurt; the idea that they'd have to leave each other eventually. He didn't want to go back to his lonely bungalow.

His hands moved over the length of her back, memorizing the angle of her spine. He thought he felt her push closer, but couldn't be sure. She was in his lap, holding him, needing him.

He held onto her as though she were the center of his universe.

Jordan kept kissing him, the thought of stopping didn't even cross her mind until the unmistakable need to breathe kicked in. She surfaced for air, breathing hard, kissing his forehead, just underneath his eyes, that sensitive spot just in front of his earlobe. Leaning back into his hands, she traced the pad of her thumb across his lips before nipping gently at it. Feelings bubbled up through her and she kissed him softly before they all came pouring out.

Alijah watched her when she pulled back, her eyes different somehow. He blinked and panted, feeling the heat between them, making it difficult to do much in the way of thinking. He shuddered at her touches, his eyelids heavy when she kissed him again.

He couldn't explain his actions or stop himself, finding her light as he shifted them both, pulling her further onto his lap. He tilted her back onto the sheet and and laid against her, his hands in her hair and on her shoulders, the feel of her skin addictive to his smooth fingertips. He moaned against her lips, taking a moment to taste what was there, the sweetness of her mouth.

She was more than he could've ever imagined.

Shifting her legs under his, Jordan slid a hand against his side, fingers against just a little skin. She rubbed there, relaxing, enjoying the weight of him. It was an odd sensation, one that never had sat very right with her before. But with Alijah, it was different. Everything was different with him. Everything was...right.

Later it would amuse her, making out with the guy she had initially hated on principle. Later, it would make her so incredibly grateful she'd brought him cookies.

He was so...perfect. From his unruly hair to his attempt at cooking to the quiet moan that made her shudder and shiver.

Alijah squirmed slightly, feeling her hand on his side. He hadn't realized his shirt was untucked, but smiled into the kiss. He felt the shiver run through his body, making him tingle everywhere possible. He settled comfortably on top of her, trying not to put too much weight on her; he didn't want to make her uncomfortable. This was about her, not him.

He pushed back her hair, running his fingers through it, resting his weight on his other arm to shift his hips slightly.

There was a tiny, panicked voice in his head, afraid to get so close so fast. He ignored it, choosing instead to savor their intimate embrace, the moment burned into his memory forever.

Jordan grinned at the squirm, pulling back a little bit. "Are you ticklish?" She tried to ignore the shift of his hips, her body involuntarily arching into his.

"You know I am," he said softly, meeting her gaze with a shy smile. "Or don't you remember torturing me on the beach a few days ago?" He reached down between them, running his fingers along her stomach over her shirt, trying to return the favor. He laughed breathlessly and blushed harder when she arched, feeling a familiar pulse against his jeans.

Jordan squirmed, laughing and wiggling against him. "I guess I did, huh. I was a little more distracted with wanting to kiss you. I was trying to think unsexy thoughts." The memory made her grin though and she grabbed at his hand, reaching for his side with the other to retaliate.

"You wanted to kiss me?" he asked, his question almost lost in the start of laughter as she tickled him, collapsing against her without thinking about it. He feigned a great struggle to free himself from her hands, twisting his body to the side. He was already short of breath; his fingers felt weak, and very soon he honestly would be helpless.

Feeling somewhat merciful, she stopped and ran her hand up his arm instead, leaning over to kiss his jaw. "Yes. I did. Very much so." Jordan blushed a little and nuzzled in next to him, head tucked under his chin.

Alijah tried to soothe his breathing, closing his eyes when she laid against him. He put his arm over her and stroked her hair, his chin tucked in against the top of her head. "Good, because I'm pretty sure I wanted to kiss you."

Her hand fisted in his shirt and she inhaled deeply, trying to get her heart rate to slow down. "I...I like you. A lot." Jordan swallowed hard, wanting to say more. Her foot moved against his leg absently, rubbing the top of it against him.

Alijah swallowed against what was bubbling in his throat, the emotions he wanted to give to her straight, pour out before he could change his mind. He felt a pang of regret in his heart, hoping he hadn't done anything too forward. She meant too much to him.

The foot against his leg did little to settle his heartbeat, although he attempted desperately to ignore it.

He didn't know what to say. He didn't lie on principle, and telling her he liked her felt like lying.

Instead he kissed the top of her head, whispering softly that he felt the same. He wanted to say so, so much more.

Propping her head, elbow on the sheet, Jordan leaned into him again to kiss him softly. She had the feeling there was something more he wanted to say, hell she was in the same boat as far as that was concerned. But things would come out eventually and for now, she would enjoy the simplicity of where things were at.

Granted, wanting to tear his clothes off and do naughty things out in the middle of the wilderness wasn't exactly simple...but it was about as simple as she got. Down Jordan. Don't scare the poor guy.

Alijah stared at her as she leaned over him, his eyes soft with what could only be interpreted as love. He wasn't ready to say it, to complicate things, to send her away. He had learned a painful lesson years ago... there were dangers involved with the heart, things that could destroy him again if he weren't careful.

Her kiss stopped his train-wreck of an imagination, his mind blank as soon as their lips touched. He sighed against her and wrapped an arm around her waist, concerned she would stop and leave if he let her go.

Her foot traveled a little higher before she hooked her leg around his, shifting them both again until she was in his lap again. Straddling him, Jordan sat up a little to shake her hair out of the way. Not that it mattered; it cascaded around them as she leaned back down to kiss him again. This one wasn't soft, but urgent and needy. Everything she felt that she couldn't say, everything she read in his eyes, bubbled under the surface until her skin felt hot and tight.

Alijah's lips were slightly open as he followed her movements, enthralled by the way she pushed her hair back, noting the way it settled against her shoulders before she knealt down over him. Her hair fell like a curtain around them, blocking out everything beyond her eyes. He tilted his face upward when they kissed, feeling the pressure of her need, the way she seemed more forward than before. He didn't know what else he could do aside from returning it, his hands on her hips, his thumbs stroking her nervously.

Her scent and taste invaded his senses, twisting his heart in his chest, the flow of blood pounding in his ears. He shivered all over.

His shiver cut through the haze in Jordan's mind and she felt the slight tremor, sensed his nervousness. She slowed her pace a little, remembering they both needed to breathe. She needed to cool down and had the sneaking suspicion that an ice cold shower was in store for her when she got home.

Scooting down a bit, she rested her head on his chest and listened to his heart pound under her ear. Jordan would never admit it, but she was glad it was beating as hard as her own.

Alijah breathed heavily when Jordan pulled away, staring upward, mild confusion jarring him out of the moment. He didn't understand why she'd stopped so suddenly.

"Did I do something?" he whispered, not really sure if he'd said it aloud until it was too late. He blushed heavily, licking his lips. Maybe she hadn't heard him. He'd sounded so childish.

"No," she shook her head, kissing his jaw. "I just don't want to make you uncomfortable..." Jordan cleared her throat a little, fingers trailing absently on his chest.

A slow moment passed by as Alijah digested what she'd said. "Oh." And it was as though he'd understood her completely... even the things she hadn't spoken aloud. He shifted just slightly, and reached to take her hand with his. He'd thought he was making her uncomfortable, and here they were in a bit of misunderstanding.

"I'm not uncomfortable." He brought her hand to his face and kissed her fingers.

"You sure?" she asked, worrying her lower lip. "The last thing I want to do is push you away..."

He stroked her fingers carefully, watching her expression.

"Right now, that is the last thing you're doing," he said against her hand, feeling warm and oddly at ease with her. His heart couldn't stop pounding, making his fingers quiver.

"Any nervousness I'm feeling has little to do with discomfort."

"How come you're nervous? I'm harmless, I promise," she smiled and nodded a little, snuggling closer. Her heart was forming a lump in her throat and she swallowed.

"I'm nervous too..." she admitted.

Alijah kissed the top of her head, holding her while she drew closer to him. He cleared his throat and furrowed his brow, unsure of how to respond. How much was too much information right now?

"I just... haven't felt like this, um... for someone... in a long time. It's just a little scary, realizing that... that um," he paused, his eyes darting back and forth a few times, searching for words.

"...maybe I've found someone... to take care of, and to..."

He stopped speaking, feeling miserable about his inability to explain himself. He licked his lips and looked down at her.

"You make my heart ache when I'm not with you. And when I am with you... it's a diff'rent kind of hurt."

"I've never felt like this about anybody," she whispered so quietly that the only reason he'd be able to hear it was because she was so thoroughly in his personal space.

"I..." Jordan cleared her throat, swallowing hard and nodding. "I know how you feel...I feel it too."

Alijah closed his eyes and held her, hoping he could soothe any fears she was feeling. He didn't like the idea of making her feel awkward. It wasn't a personal goal of his, to give her reason to feel under pressure.

The thought that she felt the same way made his breath feel short. His throat burned, his vocal chords itching to say what was on his mind. He felt hot all over, his clothes uncomfortable all at once. He hoped he wasn't sweating.

"Jordan?" he asked, his voice tiny.

"Yes, Alijah?" she replied quietly. The vulnerability in his voice made her kiss his cheek softly, trying to soothe and comfort him.

Alijah wanted to tell her everything; tell her about Aara, about the way she'd made him feel, and the way she would never live up to Jordan, and how he felt like he'd known her all his life. He wanted to give everything he had to her, all his money and possessions, his life if he had to. He wanted to stop the years of pain from continuing, crushing his will to carry on in the darkest of his moments...

He felt tears welling up in his eyes, his chest tight with anxiety. He inhaled sharply, his breath wavering noticeably.

"I..." He held her close, breathing against her mouth.

Jordan blinked, concerned. "Sweetheart? What's wrong? You can tell me..." She kissed him, gentle and sweet. "You can tell me anything."

Alijah closed his eyes to hide from himself, the tears coming anyway. He didn't want her to see him like this; it wasn't fair to her.

She did something to him that he didn't fully understand. She made him feel at home. He'd left behind his home in his youth, and he felt it returning for the first time in so many years.

He took a deep breath and opened his eyes, meeting her concerned gaze. He felt a little dizzy.

"Jordan, I have to tell you..." He kissed her softly. "I'm very much in love with you."

"I love you."

She sort of stared at him, stunned. Her heart constricted in her chest and she reached up, brushing the pad of her thumb against his eyelids. Jordan was literally speechless while she tingled all over.

"I love you too," she admitted quietly.

Alijah gave her his best smile, the expression strained as he tried to calm himself down. He didn't need to go into all the details of everything that had passed through his mind. There was no need to drag her into it.

He slid a hand over her neck and stroked her under her hair, playing the words over in his mind.

Pulling her close, Alijah nudged her nose with his affectionately, tilting slightly to then kiss her... a long, impassioned gesture of deep adoration.

She held onto him, fisting her hand into his shirt and kissed him back. It was different than kissing Tucker. Those were sweet and short, puppy love. And it was different from kissing Quinlan. That was like kissing...a prostitute. It took care of an immediate want but left her wanting to shower. Again.

But kissing Alijah, that was completely different from everything else. It made her heart happy, soothed all of her hurts. She'd never been in love before but how she felt, how it made her heart ache... She knew that she wanted to always feel like that.

Alijah knew in that moment that coming to the island had been more for him than a chance to learn about his abilities. It had gone beyond the shallow excuses he'd made for himself, surpassing anything he'd dared to believe could happen.

He'd found something much more satisfying. His connection with Jordan changed his entire world all at once, rearranging the way he saw life... the things he did weren't so important anymore.

He wanted so badly to belong to her; he moaned into the kiss, wishing they could be closer, that her warmth could become part of his existence.

Reality sunk in a bit and she grinned against his lips. The moan made her warm all over and she moved until she was on her back, tugging Alijah as she went.

Jordan hooked a leg around his, hands digging into his shoulders. She pulled back for a moment. "Don't stop. I don't want you to stop kissing me."


(fade to black)